Valley heritage: Madawaska Valley island farm

Photos: Submitted

The two postcard pictures are obviously one and the same view of the island farm although one is more of a close-up.  On the back of one postcard, it says “Published by Alex Wilson Publications Ltd., Dryden, Ontario” and “Sponsored by the Madawaska Valley Tourist Association”. The photograph was taken from halfway up the hill on Biernacki Mountain Road. That hill was nicknamed Windy City.  It is even said to be free from mosquitoes because of a constant breeze. Below the branch of the oak tree, in the distance, is Mask Island. In the early days, it was called Welshman’s Island, named after Edward and Mary Williams from Wales who were in this area at the time of both the 1861 and the 1871 census. By 1881, the Williams were living in Bangor Township, Hastings County.

In the distance beyond Mask Island, you can see a break in the trees along the shoreline. This is the location where Alex Cybulskie made his cement well tiles. On this side of Mask Island, you can see some houses that tell us where Siberia Road runs. If you look to the far left, you can make out St. Hedwig’s Church. The causeway leading to the island is visible and it should be noted that there are not many buildings on the island at this point in time. The postmark on one postcard was 1963.

The oak tree was pretty well the only tree in that farmer’s field 40 years ago. It’s possible that the oak tree was left to grow when the field was being cleared of trees and rocks about 140 years ago. The farm belonged to Adam and Pauline (Biernacki) Vankuski (Więckowski in Polish).

Sadly, the oak tree, which had been struck by lightning years ago, developed some rot in its base and it was necessary to have it cut down a couple of years ago. It is also unfortunate that many trees have grown up in front of the location of the oak tree and that same view of the island now has to be seen from the top of the hill.

NOTE: If you are interested in having a picture and story featured in The Madawaska Valley Current, please submit the information to Bob Corrigan at (marked Photo Stop)

About the author: Leaving Barry’s Bay to attend the University of Ottawa, Bob Corrigan taught in Whitby and Ottawa before returning home in 1971 with his wife, Cathie, to spend the rest of his teaching career at MVDHS.  Bob’s winter sports are hockey and skiing (he began the annual Renfrew County Teachers Hockey Tournament), his summer cottage activities include canoeing, but year-round he enjoys genealogy. Bob has volunteered for SFMH, the Train Station and Zurakowski Park.

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